Donald G. Kathan: 2021 candidate for Vernon Hills trustee
Six candidates are vying for three four-year seats on the Vernon Hills village board. Two candidates, Catherine "Katie" Sultan and Christopher Kelly, did not respond.
City: Vernon Hills
Employer: U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development
Education: BSEE University of Illinois, MBA
Civic involvement: Former Gregg's Landing North HOA President (16 years)
Q: How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state and federal authorities?
A: I believe that protecting the health, safety, and well-being of Vernon Hills residents is the Village Board's top priority. As a potential future member of the Village Board, my role in confronting the pandemic is not only to ensure that public facilities within the Village follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the state of Illinois' COVID-19 guidelines, but also to communicate the latest Lake County Coronavirus updates to seniors and others via links directly from the Village website. I believe I can also play a role in fostering the exchange of vital pandemic related information through potential future membership in the Northwest Municipal Conference as well as the Lake County Municipal League.
Q: Did your town continue to adequately serve its constituents during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A: I believe that since early 2020, the Village Board has carefully guided staff in order to provide uninterrupted Village services throughout the pandemic and to deliver needed relief to local businesses struggling to survive. As an example, the Village Board passed critically needed tax relief measures for small businesses within the Village and provided a total of $250,000 in economic relief to local restaurants hit hardest by the shutdowns in 2020. I support these efforts as a way to ensure that small businesses remain viable during disruptions caused by the pandemic.
Q: In light of our experiences with COVID-19, what safeguards/guidelines should you put in place to address any future public health crises?
A: In addition to encouraging masking, social distancing and hand washing in all public spaces during the pandemic, as a future Village Board member, I can guard against future public health crises by ensuring that thorough and timely inspections of food service facilities actively guard against conditions that could contribute to future outbreaks of communicable diseases.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: I support prudent fiscal management in order to ensure that no municipal tax will be levied against Vernon Hills residents, especially during the pandemic. Also, recognizing the burden of the pandemic on restaurants throughout the Village, I support efforts such as the ordinance to deliver tax relief to local restaurants. Finally, I strongly support local education including the authorization of the $200,000 payment to the school district for the District 73 kindergarten center on Aspen Drive.
Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project you must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what infrastructure project can be put on the back burner?
A: I believe the most important infrastructure project to continue addressing is the completion of the Hawthorn Mall redevelopment project. Other important projects to address include the widening of Route 45, upgrading stormwater management and ensuring the delivery of 5G broadband cellular networks throughout the Village. I believe in pursuing many of these projects through state, county, and local partnerships as well as private business expenditures.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board/council has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: I believe that citizen engagement is an indispensable key in public policy making, especially regarding the issue of permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community. That's why I attended a number of the public hearings held to solicit input on the issue. I believe the citizens of Vernon Hills said unambiguously "no" to permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community and the Village Board listened. I believe that process was necessary and proper to reflect the majority opinion of Village residents.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: I believe that an opportunity may exist to strengthen diversity and inclusion with respect to the delivery of municipal services. For that reason, I support the Village's undertaking of an external review of policies and practices to ensure an equitable, consistent, and just environment is achieved. When completed, I believe the results of that review will foster a strong and diverse residential and business community with concern for ecological stewardship and cooperation with other governmental bodies and agencies. I believe my responsibility to residents is to always ensure that Vernon Hills is a safe, aesthetically appealing, fiscally viable, family-oriented community with excellent educational, social, recreational, and cultural opportunities.